On Anonymous Sources

New York Times Mar 27, 2020

When it comes to news, I always look for the source. There was a story linked in the Washington Post (archive) about a bombshell story. Like most "major stories" it's based on an anonymous source:

Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.

Okay, and? Why should we believe this? Why is this even remotely believable? Anonymous sources aren't reliable. Ever.

Here's a quote from the New York Times via Snopes:

But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.
A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

That was in 1922. I don't have to tell you that those reliable, well-informed sources were wrong, right? News agencies have been publishing garbage under the guise of anonymous sources for nearly 100 years.

But, why should they care? No one can ever fact check an anonymous source. If the source even exists there's no one to say it's not purely propaganda.

An anonymous source is not a source. Period.